A Gent’s Guide To Buying Off The Rack

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Not everyone can afford to buy a hand stitched, pure wool, bespoke, Saville Row masterpiece. Many men will, especially in their younger days, have to resort to buying their suits off the rack, which is to say, ready made. They’ll walk into a shop find the closest approximate fit, pay and then walk out. And for most people who only wear a suit for weddings and funerals, whats the point in investing beaucoup bucks in something that’ll only be worn a dozen times in a lifetime?

So here are somethings that you’ll need to remember.

Size

The size tends to go in inches, a jacket or blazer will be measured by the full circumference of your torso, under your armpits, across your chest. Jackets will generally come in a short, a regular or a long, this refers to sleeve length as well as to the length of the overall jacket.

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Trousers will, again, be measured in inches around the waist, and also come in Short (approx 28-29 Inches), Regular (approx 31-32 Inches) or Long (33-34 Inches) and will be measured on the inside of your leg.

Waistcoats will take the same measurement as the blazer, although if sporting a larger midriff than chest, it is advised to go for a larger size as needed.

Fit 

 

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These days suits come in Three fits (for the most part) and these are regular, tailored and slim.  Slim fit suits are very form fitting, and not flattering on the larger gent. Regular fits are more relaxed, however have the tendency to look boxy on slimmer people. Tailored fits are a mix of the two, being slightly fitted, but not overly slim.

Price 

The lower end of the price scale is anything under £100, and is ideal for everyday business wear and for the one off formal occasion.

The mid range for suits starts around £150 and quality begins to show here, and run up to anything around £350 (if you’re going for designer brands, chances are you’ll be paying on the higher end of this spectrum).

The Higher cost range goes from anything above £500, and this is getting into the point where if you’re spending this sort of money on an off the rack suit, you have more money than sense, because for this sort of price, you are also looking at the middle price range for tailor made suit anyway.

If you are on a budget, an off the peg suit may be a good investment, especially if you are going to wear it, because even if it wasn’t made with you in mind, a decent one will still look sharp, and in this age of track suits and denim, a man in a nice suit will still stand out.

How To Wear White Tie

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White tie is probably the most formal attire a person can wear, without being decked out in medals and a uniform. These days it isn’t really worn much, but every once in a while you will find it brought back into practice. And in this day and age where detachable collars no longer exist, you may need to know what how to pull off this classic and elegant look.

The Shirt 

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First off, you’ll need a nice cotton dress shirt. it needs to be plain fronted (by which I mean, no pleats) with a wing collar, double cuffs and with studs, not buttons (although stud buttons are an OK alternative)

The Trousers 

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Evening trousers with a satin stripe, please. Which means no belt, so suspenders (braces for you yanks) and you should keep those in white.

The Waistcoat

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The waistcoat should be white obviously, and made of marcella cotton, and ideally will be backless, this allows ventilation, and a little breeze up there can be a god send in a crowded ballroom

The Tie

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The Tie should be made of a marcella cotton, that matches the waistcoat. And should always be the kind of tie that you have to tie yourself. You can always tell when someone is wearing a ready made bow tie, especially when worn with a wing collar.

The Tails 

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You should be wearing a black tailcoat with silk peak lapels, the buttons should also be silk covered.

Shoes 

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Patent leather black lace ups are the only thing that can be worn well with white tie. Keep it simple though, a little brogue like design is OK, but anything over the top will just ruin the look

Accessories 

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You can Add your own personal touches with a pocket watch, cufflinks a pocket square or a boutonniere shoved in your button hole.

Suit Review: Dobell Donegal Tweed Suit

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Because I have an absolutely amazing wife, she got me a new donegal tweed suit to celebrate a recent promotion. I have to admit its a winner. For this time of year, I was worried that it was going to be too warm, but given that its a British summertime, and the lightweight manufacture of the piece as well as being half lined and double vented, I was able to walk to a meeting yesterday without so much as breaking a sweat.

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Picture Credit: dobell.co.uk

The colour is a nice sort of rust brown, and whilst it is a dark coloured suit, it doesn’t really give a dark feeling when wearing it, and actually manages to look pretty good in most lights, whether in doors or out, which is something that I really look for in a suit.

The features of the suit include a single breasted jacket, with a 4 button cuff and a notch lapel, and the trousers are complete with button/ clip fastening and can be worn with a belt, which is often an issue I have with off the peg suits, the trousers will more often than not need to be a size too big to fit over my giant backside, and then they just hang off at the waist, however in this instance, a 40 inch waist actually managed to cover my obtuse derriere comfortably.

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The only downside to the suit that I found was that whilst it fit perfectly across the chest, it was a tiny bit tight across the stomach, if you have something stashed in the breast pockets, and since I usually have a wallet, business cards, pens, handkerchiefs, lighters and various other bits and pieces tucked about my jacket, it was a little tight if I want to keep it buttoned up, or I could just distribute things about my person a little better.

But overall I would have to say that Dobell have managed to create a fine looking piece of sartorial attire, and its going to prove a mainstay in my wardrobe over the coming months, especially in my new role.

 

Suit Review: Xposed Tweed Three Piece

 

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I decided to treat myselfprobabl and get a new suit, for a few months I’ve wanted to get a nice looking tweed suit. So I shopped around a little bit and came across the Xposed fashion line on ebay, and I fell in love at once.

Now one of the things that I love about this brand is that the suits are available as separates, as opposed to the usual 8 inch difference (size 40 waist to a size 48 jacket) which is good for me as I tend to need a size 50-52 waistcoat (that’s the problem with a massive gut) but given that I could pick the size 48 blazer, the size 40 trousers and then the size 52 waistcoat to stretch across my massive stomach, this is probably one of the main problems associated with buying off the peg (but right now I’m afraid I can’t afford to buy a tailored tweed suit, but someday…someday).

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The overall fit was decent, I think the only problem that I had is that the fly gave out after a few wears, so I spent the day walking around at half mast before I could fix it. Overall though, I would probably buy another suit from the Xposed line, although I might be a little weary of buying trousers, but their range of dinner jackets looked fantastic.

From Netflix and Chill to Dressing to Kill (101 Tips For The Modern Gentleman)

  1. Knowing a good florist is a must, whether getting a mothers day bouquet or a dozen roses for that special somebody, nothing says I care less than the words Tesco’s Own, it also shows that you give a damn beyond some passing thought whilst buying beer.
  2. A true gentleman knows his good points and his bad and whilst you should always accentuate your good points there is absolutely no reason to shy away and mask your bad points. If you have a blocked sink, call a plumber. If you don’t know which end of a paintbrush is up call a decorator. There is nothing unmanly about it, knowing what I do about myself and lack of prowess with a wrench my last struggle involving a toilet will  be teaching my daughter to use one.
  3. A real man changes his bed sheets weekly, as well as this you should own more than one set of bed sheets, you’re not in university any more.
  4. Work out a “look” early on, I’ve been the guy in a suit since 17, you should experiment with styles until you find one that works for you and remember that dressing well is its own reward.
  5. Know a good jeweller, even if you’re single, it’s good to know one, even if its just for your own watches and cufflinks.
  6. Always tip waiters and waitresses even if service is poor. You don’t know whats going on in their life, or if this poor service is the result of a bad day, incompetent co workers or a manager with a personality akin to Seabiscuit’s nether regions. Chances are poor service isn’t solely down to them alone and a decent tip may make it a better service for the next person.
  7. Familiarise yourself with the menu’s and wine list’s of at least three fine dining establishments (including one vegetarian spot) knowing the menus and winelists will make it easier to steer the bill to suit your budget and a good recommendation on the wine goes a lot further than “a bottle of the house red please”.
  8. chivalry may not be dead but it is on life support. these days its not the norm to pull out chairs or stand whenever a woman leaves the table. In this day and age a I settle for a sort of half chivalry, I’ll stand to greet a woman and always offer up my seat in a crowded bar or on public transport, I will always hold the door open for anyone, regardless of gender, I tell myself that I’ll start acting in strict accordance with the chivalric code the very moment I’m knighted
  9. All men Should Own a decent suit, a tailored suit is to women as expensive lingerie is to men.
  10. Never wear a hat indoors unless you work in a kitchen or on building site.
  11. A gentleman should always have about his person: a working pen, a handkerchief and a lighter, as you may never know when you or even better a young lady may need one.
  12. A good knowledge of wines and spirits for the man about is a must. Putting lemonade in smirnoff is acceptable, putting it in grey goose is a capital crime. Similarly not knowing the difference between sparkling wine and champagne is something no one should be guilty of. Even if you don’t like a particular spirit or aren’t a wine drinker a little education is no bad thing.
  13. You should always endeavour to treat those who are gender reassigning as you would any member of that persons chosen gender, and whilst I’m sure I personally will put my foot in it and occasionally  use the wrong pronoun I don’t do so from bumbling ignorance, not from malice, it’s just that I find gender politics hard enough to navigate under normal circumstances, let alone when someone is trying to cross the floor.
  14. Whilst a gentleman may possess a wonderful singing voice, when he chooses to employ it is important, after a rugby match can be overlooked , karaoke can be forgiven if not forgotten. But under no circumstances should a chap engage in a boozy kebab infused rendition of Wonderwall, even if he happens to make up one third of the three tenors.
  15. You should always strive to remember everyone’s name and one fact about them, this simple act can boost the confidence of almost anyone, as it shows that a near complete stranger thinks enough of them to take an interest in their life.
  16. Learn a little about art, even if its just learning to say you don’t like something with a touch of eloquence.
  17. There is nothing wrong with a little culture, Britain is a land of stately homes, art galleries and museums, why not acquaint yourself with the cultural melting pot that is Britain, In Wales, all museums are free and host impressive collections of historical artefacts and art ranging from Pre-Raphaelite beauties to modern art reminiscent to something hanging on my fridge. This does prove, in spite of what the newspapers say, culture can be found outside of the M25.
  18. A man should always have at his disposal a selection of wines and spirits (including a red a white, and a rosé all above the £7 mark) and the spirits should be drinkable alone but also shouldn’t make you want to weep if someone asks for a mixer.
  19. you should never underestimate the power of being well informed, watching the news or reading a newspaper regularly will not only increase your understanding of current events and the  world in general, but will provide you with ample conversation topics and is proven to increase your IQ.
  20. Having survived this long in your life you should know that when a woman asks “how do I look in this?” your automatic response should be “you look great”. This however is NOT the case. You should answer honestly, if a colour doesn’t work for her, tell her. Don’t be harsh in your criticism, explain your opinion delicately, shes asked for your opinion, give it. She’ll probably respect you more for it.
  21. A gentleman will under no circumstances post explicit materials of any persons they have been intimate with on the internet and will not share these images with friends, regardless of break up circumstances or any other mitigating factor.
  22. Good manners should be the norm, not a means to to get into someones undergarments, just because you’re polite to someone does not guarantee VIP access to their genitalia. Do not then accuse that person of leading you on, I fail to see why people feel they should be rewarded for behaving the way they are meant to behave.
  23. Being a single man can be both amazing and frustrating in equal measure in equal measure. Most frustrating is trying to determine weather or not someone is into you. I have a simple trick. This Text “Hey [insert name here] hows it going I was wondering if you  wanted to [activity] on [day]. How they answer should give you some indication of how they feel. A resounding yes is a pretty clear, however if they reply with an “I’m busy sorry” there are two interpretations to this answer, either they are legitimately busy or trying to let you down gently. I’ve only ever found one way to work out which, reply exactly “no problem, maybe some other time.” How your intended replies will be the give away. If they reply offering alternative dates/times you’re in, if there’s no reply it may be time to move on.
  24. A mans home is his castle and he should rule with an iron fist from throne room to kitchen, no man should fear pots and pans, all men should learn to cook a few simple dishes and learn them well and remember that presentation is everything.
  25. A true gent will avoid firearms unless he plans to eat what he kills.
  26. One should always know how to make a number of cocktails, some basics are; a  screwdriver and a sex on the beach.
  27. Always strive for the perfect Martini, knowing full well that you will never achieve it.
  28. Talking about money depresses people, there is nothing more puerile than talking about the size of your (ahem) endowment.
  29. always pass the port to the left, even if you don’t touch the stuff yourself.
  30. All gentlemen should own a corkscrew
  31. The correct way to make tea is; teabag then boiling water, allow to brew for about a minute, then add sugar and finally milk
  32. Basic use of cutlery should be instilled at a very young age, but since none of us can help our upbringing, remember, the knife goes to the right and the fork to the left. Regardless of need, a knife should always be picked up and held at all meal times. A spoon should be used in the right hand and elbows should never touch the table.
  33. Keeping abreast of fashion is a must, if only to know what to avoid, crocs are a crime against nature, let alone fashion.
  34. you should learn some basic DIY skills there is something almost therapeutic about beating something with a hammer for constructive purposes.
  35. When hosting a dinner party you should not serve food that was ordered from justeat
  36. A gentleman should follow sport, if only to know what’s going on when it appears on TV.
  37. Learning to sew is a useful tip for the modern gent as “make do and mend” is a trend that has fallen by the wayside, but it makes your clothes last and keeps you looking better for longer.
  38. You as a gentleman should never underestimate the power of live performance, and you should regularly partake in the majesty pf theater, ballet and opera, not only to broaden your mind, but they will often broaden your social standing as well.
  39. You should always give money to buskers, regardless of their musical talents.
  40. A gentleman should always offer to pay, but shouldn’t be threatened by going dutch.
  41. Flip Flops are a no
  42. A man should always try to maintain his appearance, you may run to fat or lose your hair, but you should always try to make the most out of what you have to work with.
  43. One should always strive to be on time, the universe may conspire to foil you in this, but the effort should be made.
  44. A mobile phone should be used only when needed, not as a social crutch.
  45. A man should imbibe enough to become fun, but stop before becoming a figure of fun.
  46. No man should ever have a name for his penis
  47. A sane man should always read his contracts word for word and should not shy away from asking for clarification or changes to be made.
  48. If a tan isn’t natural it shouldn’t be had.
  49. Body hair should be kept trimmed, a body trimmer is a must.
  50. An adult should both own and know how to tie a tie.
  51. A man should know how to dance, even if he chooses not to.
  52. A chap should only ever wear swimming trunks he would be comfortable going to a bar in.
  53. Never take a date to Wetherspoons (unless they ask) if Wetherspoons is the height of culinary excellence where you live…move.
  54. Know how much tax you should be paying.
  55. Always Know the number of a reliable taxi firm.
  56. Swearing is a part of modern life but a gentlemen will stand apart from the crowd. Why not turn a “go fuck yourself” into a “go and sodomise yourself”, why not get creative with it, the more loquacious the better.
  57. Always end a relationship in person. The end of a relationship should not mean the end of common courtesy, you owe it to that person to do things face to face.
  58. Always remember that your religious views are similar to your genitals, you may enjoy them, you may receive great comfort and pleasure from them in times of need and you may think that they are better than everybody else’s and want to spread them to the four corners of the world, but please refrain from brandishing them in public.
  59. You should always have a few little tricks at your disposal for entertaining children, but remember that children are actual human beings ,so you will need something better than the never classic “got your nose”.
  60. A gentleman will not bemoan his circumstances, but instead seek to change them. Remember it’s better to light a flame thrower than curse the darkness.
  61. Never wave cash at a bartender, its undignified and wont get you served quicker.
  62. Whether texting, emailing, writing or tweeting, always use the queens English, spelling mistakes can be overlooked, but deliberate mistakes cannot, for example, like is not spelled with a Y, bae is not a word and yolo sounds like the name of a circus dwarf.
  63. Even if you love the sound of your own voice, others may not, sometimes less is more and its the quietest that speak with the loudest voice, in a meeting or social situation, others have a right to be heard.
  64. A gentleman should never lose his temper, times are sent to test us, but the times make the man, decisions made in haste will invariably go sour.
  65. Alternatively though more has been lost through indecision than choosing the wrong course of action, the key is confidence in your conviction.
  66. Always look a person in the eye when talking to them, don’t look at their feet. Observing someones body language while conversing is fine, but feet have nothing interesting to say.
  67. By now you should know what to ask for from a barber and have preprepared small talk ready for once you’ve asked them for it.
  68. Blasphemy should be avoided, especially by atheists. It’s a tad hypocritical to yell “Jesus Christ” regardless of whether you’ve hit your hand with a hammer. This rule may be overlooked as it would take the most iron willed of atheists to yell “theory of evolutionary biology and natural selection” when met with a hammer.
  69. Newborn babies, whilst the representation of innocence, purity and the future are in fact nothing more than squashed, ugly, wailing, loud masses of bodily fluids, however when presented with one a gentleman should make the generally accepted cooing noises, recitations of beauty and cuteness and appropriate comparisons between this shrill ball of vomit, urine and excrement and the adults who sired it.
  70. Talking to oneself is perfectly acceptable, sometimes its nice to have some intelligent conversation.
  71. Never be afraid to admit that you don’t know something or that you don’t know that much about a particular subject, you may learn something new and a little education goes a long way.
  72. If you do one day become a parent, remember that it is important to strike the balance between master, magistrate, mentor and mate.
  73. If you have to question your motives for being somewhere, perhaps its time to leave.
  74. A gent should know what to drink regardless of where he is, it really is a massive annoyance to be held up at a bar, or while getting coffee, by someone else’s indecision.
  75. He whose round it is shall choose the vintage.
  76. Similarly if it is your round and someone is not specific about what they want, ie “I’ll have a lager”. It is bad form to get them the cheapest brand, unless that is what they usually drink.
  77. It’s no bad thing to admit to being too broke to take part in an activity with friends. It shows you’re responsible enough to say no and the occasional night to yourself is something to be treasured.
  78. Whether netflixing or attending the cinema, you should always ask what it is your companion would like to watch, however prefacing it with what you would like to watch is acceptable.
  79. Never put a knife in your mouth
  80. It’s okay to correct a mispronunciation, but not to make fun of it.
  81. Travel, a holiday should broaden the mind, and not just diminish the liver.
  82. Even if you are an ardent pacifist, never put down someone for serving in the military. It’s a legitimate career path for many who would otherwise be written off by society and chances are an 18 old private will be earning more than most recent graduates, with the added bonus of being debt free.
  83. Become informed about politics, you don’t have to join a political party, but at election time you should look at what the candidates are saying and work out who will be best for you. nothing is more childish than voting for someone because your family has done so for decades, or worse refusing to vote outright.
  84. if you don’t drive you should have, at least, a basic knowledge of public transport in your area.
  85. Never mention a persons weight, if they’ve lost some, chances are they’ll know and if they’ve put some on chances are they wont wan’t to know.
  86. When it comes to footwear you should try and strike a balance between comfort and looking good, if you ever find a pair that are both, you should by 20 pairs of them.
  87. Real gentlemen will always have a toast ready, you never know when it’ll come in handy
  88. You should always taste food before adding salt, adding salt to something without tasting it is a little insulting at the best of times. So try it first.
  89. Animals are a good judge of character, even if you don’t like them, be nice to them.
  90. Cheese is life, make peace with it.
  91. When giving a gift, you should bear in mind that presentation is key. Even a poundland box of chocolates can be made presentable with a bow. This works wonders at Christmas time, especially for those relatives that you are obligated to buy for, but don’t want to spend a fortune on.
  92.  Whilst the health problems are highlighted everywhere, smoking is still a hobby for many men, just be wary of your surroundings and be mindful of those around you.
  93. Get a coffee maker, good coffee is worth waiting for.
  94. No mater how hot it is, a shirt should always be worn in public (exceptions can be made for swimming pools and beaches)
  95. Always give a lady the aisle seat.
  96. Announcing that you are going to the toilet is fine (preferred terms are the gent’s or the men’s room) announcing what you are going to do there however is not .
  97. Invest in a good umbrella, a cheap one will break at the most inopportune moment, one that cost £10 or more may make it through the British summertime.
  98. Knowing the rules to two or three card games is an essential skill. No one wants to sit at a bar in a casino, but alternately no one wants to lose their shirts either, so remember bet with your head not over it.
  99. The English language is a beautiful thing, don’t bastardise is with text speak.
  100. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but emoji’s are worthless
  101. Most importantly, remember that being a gentleman is not about education and status, but about a commitment to bettering yourself, being comfortable in your own skin and treating everyone with the respect that they deserve.

Hopefully this post will help you out in some way. Because it may be a mans world, but there is defiantly a long way to go until its a gentleman’s world.